Like liver sausage, Gordon Ramsay is an acquired taste. I must confess, despite not being a fan of celebrity chefs, I have a bit of a soft spot for the old gruffer. I like his in-your-face aggression as he deems a well-cooked linguine to be not just a matter of life and death but more important than that. He is the one guy who I quite enjoy listening to swearing, despite having to mute the volume each time the kids walk in, as I protect their tender ears from his potty-mouthed eff and jeff fest.

The lockdown has brought about some peculiarities, one of which involves Mr Ramsay as he faces the ire of seemingly the entire county of Cornwall. Now, as regular readers will know, I have a penchant for, and an affinity with, Cornwall and the Cornish. My wife is a bona fide Cornishwoman and we take long trips to the West Country a few times a year and feel at home when we do so, thank you please.

Ramsay also has an affinity with Cornwall and plenty more cash in the bank than me, which affords him the luxury of being a second (and third, and fourth) homeowner. As I have previously stated, I pity local Cornish people who are genuinely priced out of the property market due to the prevalence of second homeowners and holiday lets. Walk around Porthleven harbour in winter and it soon becomes apparent that 90 per cent of the properties are empty until the summer, as locals make do on a below average salary and are priced into moving to less salubrious surroundings such as Redruth and Camborne.

Ramsay, however, is the proud owner of a £4 million idyll in Rock. The semi-secluded property is frequently used and one of his offspring lives there full-time. Pre-lockdown, while sitting in his London drum, no doubt the conversation between himself and his wife turned to where to hunker down, if and when, we would be ordered to self-isolate. Given the option of being in the UK coronavirus epicentre, London, surrounded by crowds and putting his family at risk of contamination, he wisely took the option of landing the Good Ship Ramsay in Kernow to see off the pandemic and keep his family safe, and I for one don’t blame him.

But oh, what a faeces storm he has concocted! Despite his previously blowing smoke up the backside of the beautiful county at every opportunity, the West Country worm has turned. His family, far from the madding crowd, have been subject to vitriolic attacks from the Cornish, the majority of whom I would hazard a guess are not from the area originally anyhow. He has been branded (not literally, but I wouldn’t put it past the hardcore-nish) ‘reckless’ and ‘irresponsible’ and was even on the receiving end of a mouthful as he purchased a few items at the local stop and shop. It is a peculiar beast this corona situation and no doubt minions such as me will receive further attacks for daring to discuss the topic, as happened recently when I explained my belief that I may have had corona, but went to the gym before the penny dropped prior to entering an overdue and overlong self-isolation period.

The Ramsay case is bigger however, as he is a bona fide celebrity and not some local hack. Long forgotten is his defence of Cornwall, its way of life and its people, his charitable foundation, which has raised some serious bucks for sick children at Great Ormond Street, or his being an employer who is loyal to his staff despite the bluntness of his direction.

The whole situation is a shame yet how many of us in the same boat and with our own family’s health at risk, would not have done what he has? If I had a multi-million-pound luxury property in Rock I would have been there like a shot, pre-lockdown, as I prioritised my family’s safety. It is also worth bearing in mind he is the father of a one-year old baby, Oscar, who would undoubtedly be safer in the sticks than in the smoke.

The Cornish need to have a word with themselves. Cornwall has the lowest rate of coronavirus in England, it is still sparsely populated, more so with hotels and Airbnbs in lock down, and the fact that there is only one main hospital in the Duchy, in Truro, is an irrelevance as the service offered, and the wait times, are much better than many other medical establishments I have visited. If anything, there is less of a burden on the hospital as holidaymakers are forced to stay away.

Enjoy your stay Mr Ramsay, but don’t forget the ire directed at you when this is all over, as those who attacked you stop you in the local pub for a selfie or ask you to donate a banana cake to the local fete. Much as I love the Cornish, they can be peculiar beasts at times, who, despite the belief that they are a country within a country are more than happy to fleece the tourists while their own people suffer inequality on the one hand and gripe about incomers on the other.

  • Brett Ellis is a teacher